Yo! Noodles

City of Dreams, Macau

When you’re running a little late to a show, sometimes compromises have to be made. Like eating in a casino. It’s not the first time I’ve done it – though last time I was considerably less sober – and it probably won’t be the last. I mean after all, if gamblers feel like subsidising my food with their hard earned coin, who am I to refuse?

Yo! Noodles is nestled in the City of Dreams casino, somewhere between the Hard Rock Hotel, and the Grand Hyatt. Actually, to be honest, if you asked me to find it again, I would have great difficulty. That place is like a very spacious maze. Anyway, the main draw card (I think?) of Yo! Noodles is not, in fact, the exclamation point in its name which requires you to get excited when mentioning it, but rather the fact that everything on the menu is 28MOP (that’s Macanese Patacas, roughly equivalent to the HKD). That means all the dishes are around 4AUD. That’s not necessarily cheap by local standards, but it’s pretty cheap to me! However, all drinks are also 28MOP, which is a touch on the pricey side if you’re not drinking alcohol. Luckily, we were.

So I had the seafood vermicelli salad. I think it was supposed to be Thai style. Only there was neither enough lime nor fish sauce for it to be much more than bland. It was only redeemed by the use of those sneaky-type chillies which make their presence known only halfway through eating the dish.

@eatnik had the tom yum soup, which she found quite agreeable, but she didn’t really elaborate when I asked her how it was, so it mustn’t have been that good?
Ms A, who works in the building (not for the casino) had pretty much sampled the menu in her tenure at City of Dreams, and ordered the Hainanese chicken rice. I have to admit, that chicken did look succulent and juicy, almost enough to forgive the atomic orange chilli sauce.
After the show we headed back into the casino to a bar, and after one round of sensible cocktails, we moved on to the flaming ones…

Sam Tor Noodles

1/F, 30 Pottinger St, Central

Team Fatty (that is, @eatnik and I) are off and running. Merely hours after @eatnik’s 4:30am arrival – I had arrived the previous day – we headed off for our first stop in what is shaping up to be a food journey of epic proportions. Listed by CNNGo’s guide to Hong Kong as having the best chilli oil in Hong Kong, it was pretty obvious that this place was going to be high on our list of places to visit.

We arrived at around 9:30am, and the place was bustling, but not too busy for us to get a table right away. We shared a table with a middle-aged HK lady, who seemed bemused by how excited we were about the chilli oil, tasting it on its own before mixing it in with our noodles.
To call this Hong Kong’s best is a pretty big call, and I’m not sure I entirely agree. Sure, it’s very good, but it wasn’t the crazy symphony of chilli flavours which CNNGo had me expecting.It was reminiscent of the crispy prawn chilli which @msbaklover had introduced me to recently. Salty but mildly shrimpy (this sounds weird, but trust me, it’s a good thing) at the same time.

I ordered the beef brisket noodle. I like that (for me) it was the perfect breakfast size. Hearty, and satisfying, but not overly filling. And at $HK28 (around $4AUD) it’s an absolute steal. But that’s a trend you’ll be seeing a lot more of in these Hong Kong #fattyposts.

The flavour of the brisket was spot on. A good amount of five spice, but not too much. It was a tad on the oily side, but hey, when you’re on holidays, who cares!? I also love the egg noodles here in Hong Kong. They’re so much finer than the ones we get back in Melbourne, which somehow makes them better.

@eatnik had the wonton noodles (also $HK28), which came with four plump little babies sitting atop her bowl of noodles. On top of which, of course, she heaped a big spoonful of chilli oil.

Having decided early on in the piece that she wasn’t going to try to match my eating prowess bowl for bowl, she was kind enough to give me one of her wontons. They were succulent and tasty, with whole prawns inside.
It may or may not be Hong Kong’s best chilli oil – our jury of two is still out on that one – but Sam Tor is definitely worth a visit. The noodles are awesome, as are their fatboy wontons.

Tia To

8 Whiteman St Crown Entertainment Complex, Southbank
Phone: 9292 6989

After a heady High Tea at the Langham, followed by an afternoon of grazing at the Good Food and Wine Festival, I had a couple of hours to kill before meeting a friend for a movie at Crown. I will admit to being somewhat… tipsy… after the GFWF (you can’t turn down a shed full of winery stands offering tastings now, can you?). So tipsy, in fact, I wandered into Rockpool, and asked for a seat at the bar, thinking “Hey! I’ll finally get to try that wagyu burger!” only to be politely told by the hostess that they’d be happy to fit me in – at 6, when they open. It was apparently only 5:15. Oops!

So I thought I’d have a look at one of the restaurants in the casino itself (I know! Why!?) seeing as I’d been there years ago as a student, taking advantage of the gambling-subsidised food on offer. I stopped at Tia To, curious to see what Crown’s version of pho would be like. I mean there’s a hefty amount of Vietnamese problem-gamblers, right? Surely their tastes must be catered for…

I was heartened by the impressive array of condiments on the table.

And by the noodle-slurping Chinese men who were also eating pho at the next table (even though they were Mandarin speakers, so not likely to be experts in pho authenticity?)

Unfortunately, at this point in time, my phone decided to die on me. Which was not only devastating in terms of my inability to document the noodles about to arrive at my table, but also it made things difficult in terms of meeting my friend to see the movie afterwards!

So you get no pictures of the actual pho – which in some way defeats the purpose of this post; I know, right? – but trust me when I say it was rather underwhelming. The amount of basil which came with the beanshoots and lemon was on the stingy side. The broth was one-dimensional in flavour – that dimension was MSG. The beef was similarly bland. It’s a bad sign when the best thing in a bowl of pho are the ‘beef balls’. Because they’re almost certainly from a packet that you can buy from any Asian grocer.

This place serves a soup noodle which is something of a travesty against pho. I was left wishing I had ordered the seafood platter special, and consoling myself in the fact I had a $4 bottle of Carlsberg. The only other upside I can think of about this experience was that the service was really quite good.

Tia To on Urbanspoon

Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe

241 Victoria Parade, Abbotsford
Phone: 9417 7447

Opening up a Thai restaurant a couple of doors up from the institution that is Ying Thai is either a gutsy or a foolhardy move. A move, however, which seems to have paid off for the owners of Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe, and has also further cemented tiny stretch at the Hoddle street end of Victoria St as a little Thai enclave, next to its much more sprawling Vietnamese cousin.

I’d been to Tom Toon once before, when Mr B and I had feasted ourselves silly on Larb Moo, Som Tum – not on the menu, but on the board on the wall above the counter – and pad Thai. It being a noodle cafe, I wanted to return to try more noodles. Though I was immediately distracted by the promise of “BBQ Chicken skin skewer”. Chicken skin? Hell yes, please!
Unfortunately, either I had been deemed not capable/worthy of eating the chicken skin, ordered incorrectly, or the chicken skin had been mystically transubstantiated, because what arrived were skewers of skinless chicken. Disappointment city: population me.
To be fair, the skewers were well marinated, and quite tasty, if a little overcooked. The dipping sauce was an interesting tamarind-based sauce, with a hint of chilli, and the ground roasted rice gave it a great aroma.
The disappointment started to fade when the Pork Noodle Gravy Soup (Kuitiw Nur Toon) arrived. There were four different types of pork in the bowl! From top right, working clockwise: boiled pork, braised pork shoulder, pork ‘balls’ – reconstituted meat is quite common in South East Asia, more pork shoulder, and the tan/orange-y things at the top are FRIED LARDONS. Oh yeah. Also in the noodles were some kangkung, bean shoots and coriander.
Check out the superfine rice vermicelli! Such an amazing texture. While it’s actually quite a pedestrian dish – it’s essentially street food in Thailand – the soup was so evocative of the late night cart noodles I’d had in Phuket earlier this year. When food so clearly brings up memories of great holidays, it scores bonus points. Bonus points also get given for things being cheap. While no match for the 45THB I paid for noodles in Phuket, Tom Toon’s noodles are still pretty cheap at $9.90.

Tom Toon does pretty authentic Thai food, but be warned: there are no curries at this Thai restaurant. Somewhat incongruous, but what they do, they do well.

Tom Toon Thai Noodle Cafe on Urbanspoon

Pumpkin Miso Noodles in Shiitake Dashi Broth

International incident noodles party

First of all I’d like to thank and congratulate Penny for coming up with such an innovative way for us to all share the joy of a noodle party, without having to eat them all ourselves, or leave out own homes, for that matter!

So for this party, I came up with this idea that I could infuse miso into udon noodles, and that I could teach myself to hand-pull sad udon noodles. Here is my FAILWHALE tale.

So it all started pretty well. I came across a hand-pulled noodle recipe, which wasn’t udon, but looked pretty good. The ingredients were pretty much:

  • 500gm plain flour
  • 300ml water

The dough came together looking like this:

Following the video, I rested it for 20 minutes, kneaded it until smooth, rested it for another five minutes and kneaded it again. Before the final kneading, I added about 2 tablespoons of white miso, and the same quantity of mashed pumpkin. In retrospect, the pumpkin was a big mistake. Far too watery, so I had to keep adding flour to compensate for the excess moisture. This was the beginning of the FAIL.

To cut a long, arduous, knead-y story short, the resulting dough was far too tight to be stretched, and I resorted to pulling out the pasta machine and super-laminating the dough with ever-increasing amounts of flour.

Not wanting to make ramen/spaghetti sized noodles, I continued on my lazy option, and went for fettucine-shaped noodles. If I had an obaasan (Japanese grandmother) she would have been rather upset. Although if I had an obaasan this travesty of noodle FAIL would never have happened! Seeing as I don’t, I persevered.

And boiled the noodles for about 3 minutes.

In the meantime, I had been simmering shiitake mushrooms and ginger for about two hours, to make a dashi broth.

It was lacking in flavour, so I added about 2 teaspoons of salt. Oh, by the way, that’s a quail egg I’m poaching in the soup ladle there.

My friend Mr R came around to help evaluate my Japanese experiment, which made me a little nervous because he is something of a Nihon-ophile, and had recently returned from Japan with tales of tonkotsu ramen and tonkatsu made from pork ribs, but I had caveated the exercise as experimentation, so he was quite gracious in his reception.

Time to plate up. Add noodles to broth (to keep them from sticking together as you assemble the other ingredients).

For my toppings, I included some silken tofu, shiitake mushrooms from the broth, grilled eggplant and snow peas. Mr R didn’t like quail’s eggs, so I had a poached one on mine, but omitted it from his.

Even though it was a strange fusion of fettucine and Japanese flavours, it all came together rather well.

Though next time, I’ll omit the pumpkin from the noodle, and add more miso. While the noodle had some flavour, it wasn’t nearly enough, considering I had left the broth quite simple (read bland) to compensate for flavoursome noodles.

I’m going to play around with putting other things in my noodles – the next candidate will be harissa!

You can find everyone links to everyone else’s noodles at Jeroxie.com!

International Incident Party Flickr page

Noodle Kingdom

175 Russell St, Melbourne CBD
Phone: 9654 2828

This was a meal I ate last year, but Gem and Tris’ recent tweets about Noodle Kingdom (albeit in Preston) over the weekend reminded me that I had it in my photo archives. So the news is not current, but I assume very little has changed in the last 6 months. Except I no longer work in the CBD, so it’s only now and then that I get to lunch in the city. Woe is me, for the noodle lunch options in Parkville are pretty poor. And noodle lunch, how much doth I love thee!?

One of the things that sets Noodle Kingdom apart from its competitors is that there’s a chef in the front window hand-making noodles. I scarcely think I need to recommend this place further. I’ll just see you there!

On this occasion, I had the hand-made soup noodles with beef brisket, and because that gargantuan bowl of goodness wasn’t enough – say what!? – I ordered the leek puffs, too. They were a little disappointing, really. A bit oily, and the filling wasn’t at all interesting. I took to dipping it in my brisket soup, which tuned out to be a good idea!

This isn’t a place where you go for the service, or really the ambience either. Neither is fantastic, but neither is bad. You go for the noodles, and you stay for the chance that the range of Shanghainese style cold dishes will be available. I’d say the odds on any given day are 60-40 in your favour.

Noodle Kingdom on Urbanspoon